Sunday, July 17, 2011

foucus on your mission

The wild & windy weather we're having today puts me in mind of my time in the Azores, where it sometimes got so windy it used to rain sideways! When I was in the Azores I worked with a chap called Dan. Dan was tall and thin and full of energy ... & Dan was great at figuring out all the problems of the world ... I was his boss, so he came to me with all his great solutions - particularly with his ideas as to how I could do my job better! The problem was, all of these things had nothing to do with him or his work. I finally had to take him to the side & quietly ask him focus on his own job and let others concentrate on theirs.

Dan puts me in mind of the parable we hear today. The master sows good seed. An enemy sneaks in & sows some weed seeds. Nobody realises until both are growing. The slaves spots the problem ... and like Dan they rush in, all enthusiastic to sort things out. But the master is very wise. He tells them no. It's not possible to root out the weeds without damaging the crop. So he tells them it must be left until the time of the harvest. And when that time comes it will be the job of the reapers to sort things out, not them.

So why did did Jesus tell this parable?  Well, a lot of Jesus' followers saw the Messiah as some kind of a conquering hero, come to rid the world of God's enemies. In this parable Jesus is explaining to them that God can look after himself, thank you very much! He doesn't need us going around the place, rooting out those we think are his enemies and making things worse than they were in the first place in the process. And wasting our energy trying to do things that aren't for us to do.

Also, when Matthew was writing his gospel, there were already lots of divisions among Christians. We see this in St Paul's letters – written not long before the Gospels … including this parable in his gospel was his way of reminding his listeners that there master had already warned them that this was not something to get all worried about … we are not the ones tasked with the job of figuring out who are out there in the world working against the word of God … our job is to spread the word … to save our energies for that …

This is the kind of thing we can all too easily get caught up in today ourselves ... thinking it's our job to sort out all the problems ... of course, often our 'problem solving' can be little more than a finger pointing exercise. As we hear in another parable, it's very easy to see the speck in someone else's eye & miss the beam in our own. We need to focus on our own task - leave the tasks of others to them - and especially leave the tasks of God to God.

Dan finally got his chance to take charge and sort all the problems he saw. I went on holidays & left him in charge. I could see from the glint in his eye that he couldn't wait to finally start fixing things. When I got back a few weeks later, I never saw anyone looking so pale ... he looked like he hadn't slept all the time I'd been gone! Being in charge had forced him to focus on the task he had to do ... and he had found that it was quite enough for him!  Dan had learned the hard lesson that if you are to do well ... if you are to be the good and faithful servant ... they thing to do is to do what it is that you are supposed to do ...

It's a good lesson to learn ... sometimes we all need to be reminded that our mission is to serve God as we are called ... and to trust the rest to his gracious love and mercy. something that I pray for myself, and for you, and all others - Amen.

(outline of the sermon I preached this morning 17 July 2010, the 4th Sunday after Trinity)

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